Lockdown and school closure related to COVID-19 pandemic increased sedentary time and greater consumption of ultra-processed foods, an environment that may exacerbate the childhood obesity epidemic. In Brazil, public schools remained closed for more than 40 weeks. In Brazil, prior to the current pandemic, 15.9% of children under 5 yr.-old, 29.3% of those between 5 and 9 yr.-old and 30.8% of adolescents were overweight. Aims: To verify the impact of school closure on the weight, body mass index (BMI), changing lifestyle habits and increasing the prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents at the pediatric obesity clinic of a public tertiary hospital in Southern Brazil. Methods: Cross-sectional observational study of overweight/obese patients aged 6 to 15 years who attended a medical appointment from November 2019 to May 2021. Patients with an organic or endocrine cause of obesity, monogenic obesity and genetic syndromes were excluded. The study protocol was approved by the Ethics Committee. Data of the last pre-pandemic visit were extracted from the clinical records and anthropometric measurements were assessed in the first visit during the pandemic. A survey was aimed to assess whether nutritional and consumer habits have been affected under quarantine conditions. Results: 50 patients (31 girls) aged 11.6±2.4 yr.-old were included. All of them were from low-income families and had not been returned to school. The interval between visits was 382.7±76.6 days. Over 58% reported snacking more, greater consumption of ultra-processed foods and increased sedentary time. Forty-five patients (88%) experienced weight gain [9 kg (-3.6 to 25.5)] and there was a gain of 19.6% compared to pre-pandemic weight. The median BMI and its z-score variation between visits were +1.9 kg/m2 (-2.9 to +7.7) and +0.07 (-0.93 to +1.47), respectively. The change in adjusted BMI to the median for sex and age was +1.65 kg/m2 (-3.60 to +6.90). There was an increase in the prevalence of obesity of 12% in this group. Conclusion: Defining the longitudinal change in BMI in the pediatric age group is a challenge. This study showed an unhealthy weight gain in a group of previously overweight pediatric patients, increased sedentary time and some difficulties faced by children during quarantine in Brazil. The study highlights that lockdown imposed by SARS-CoV-2 affected eating behaviors, dietary and sedentary habits, and advocates for organized nutritional support during future epidemic-related quarantines, particularly for the most vulnerable groups, including children with overweight or obesity.
15 Sep 2022 - 17 Sep 2022